Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release


Jared Margolis, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 310-4054,
Jake Thompson, Natural Resources Defense Council, (202) 289-2387,
Mark Hefflinger, Bold Alliance, (323) 972-5192,
Gabby Brown, Sierra Club, (202) 495-3051,
Patrick Davis, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0744,
Dustin Odgin, Northern Plains Resource Council, (406) 228-1154,

Press Release

Groups Challenge Trump Administration's Rubber-stamping of Keystone XL Permit

Judge hears arguments that approval violated environmental laws, relied on outdated science.

Environmental and landowner groups today argued in federal court that the Trump administration’s rubber-stamp approval of a cross-border permit for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline violated environmental laws and should be vacated.

The lawsuit challenges the U.S. Department of State’s inadequate and outdated environmental review of the pipeline. That review relied on an old environmental impact statement from January 2014 and failed to consider key information on the impacts of the 1,700-mile pipeline, which would carry up to 35 million gallons of oil a day from Canada’s tar sands — one of the world’s dirtiest energy sources — across critical water sources and wildlife habitat to Texas refineries.

Plaintiffs Northern Plains Resource Council, Bold Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club filed the lawsuit in March 2017. The case is being argued in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana.

Beginning in February, the court ordered the Trump administration to disclose additional documents related to the project, which the court found had been improperly withheld. Last night, on the eve of oral arguments, landowners and pipeline opponents hosted a rally at Elks Riverside Park on the banks of the Missouri River.

Featured speakers included Bill Whitehead, chair of the Water Commission of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes; Dena Hoff, farmer and irrigator on the Yellowstone River; Stuart Lewin, board member and officer of Missouri River Citizens, Inc.; Art Tanderup, a Nebraska farmer and landowner on the proposed KXL route; and Joye Braun, organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network.

Rally attendees then marched across the Missouri river, past the federal courthouse in Great Falls where today’s hearing was held, to West Bank Park on the bank of the Missouri River.

“The communities being threatened by the Keystone XL pipeline deserve a full accounting of its impacts, and the law requires it,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes. "The Trump administration thought they could avoid a full analysis of Keystone XL in order to score a quick political win, but they are not above complying with the law. Our environmental laws exist to protect the American people, and federal agencies cannot flout these laws for the benefit of a foreign oil company.”

“In approving Keystone XL, the Trump administration unlawfully ignored that it would be a disaster for our climate, wildlife and clean water,” said Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Regulators failed to fully consider this pipeline’s profound threats to the environment and endangered species, including the iconic whooping crane, which would be devastated by the project’s power lines. The government failed to do its job, and this terrible project must be stopped.”

“Keystone XL threatens the Ogallala aquifer and fragile Sandhills in Nebraska, as well as the migratory route of our beloved and endangered whooping cranes, and the outdated environmental review does not even encompass new land and endangered species habitat on the proposed ‘Mainline Alternative’ route in Nebraska,” said Mark Hefflinger, communications director for Bold Alliance.

“The Trump administration barreled into office eager to appease big polluters, and fast. So fast it acted illegally by approving the KXL project even before it had an approved route,” said Jackie Prange, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “But no route will ever be safe. Wherever it goes, this dangerous pipeline will always pose an unacceptable risk to water supplies for farmers, ranchers, indigenous people, and communities. We intend to stop it once, and for all.”

“Trump evaded the law to rush the construction of Keystone XL pipeline, ignoring the direct danger this dirty project puts our communities and environment in,” said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. “We cannot stand by while Trump and Big Oil imperil water supplies, threaten endangered species, destroy forests and accelerate climate change. Keystone XL is an environmental disaster waiting to happen and this administration cannot ignore the law to avoid assessing the risk this pipeline poses.”

“Our struggle with Keystone XL has gone on so far and so long that it can be easy to miss the original, basic facts. The fact is, when I gave a negative answer to the question, ‘Do you want a pipeline to cross your land?’ I was asked by a Keystone XL fieldman if I really wanted to take on a multibillion-dollar corporation. I guess I do, since the pending pipeline was forced on me and on my land,” said Don Brown, a Montana landowner whose ranch would be crossed by the proposed pipeline, and Northern Plains Resource Council member. “I took this to be a threat of condemnation where my constitutional right to protect my property is violated.”

Keystone XL pipeline protest


At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive. 

Ex-Prisoners Recall US Torture at 'Afghanistan's Abu Ghraib'

"It is psychologically hard for me to recall all that was happening," said one former Bagram Air Base inmate. "The torture was mostly done by Afghans, sometimes the Americans. But the orders came from the U.S."

Brett Wilkins ·

Rapid Shift to Electric Vehicles Could Create Over 150,000 Jobs in US by 2030

A new report says "smart" pro-labor policies by lawmakers would transform the "inevitable" shift to EVs "into a new beginning for U.S. producers and the rebuilding of a foundation for good jobs."

Kenny Stancil ·

'Groundbreaking' Win as Court Rules USFWS Can't Ignore Climate Impacts on Joshua Tree

The ruling represents a step forward "for all climate-imperiled species whose fate relies upon the service following the law," said advocacy group WildEarth Guardians.

Julia Conley ·

WHO's New Air Pollution Guidelines Reflect Deadly Toll of Fossil Fuels

"What matters most is whether governments implement impactful policies to reduce pollutant emissions, such as ending investments in coal, oil, and gas and prioritizing the transition to clean energy," said a Greenpeace scientist.

Jessica Corbett ·

Baby Poop Has Ten Times More Microplastic in It Than Adult Poop: Study

"The future is going to wonder what on earth we thought we were doing with plastic."

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo